This article appears from the story For Bean" Love for Sale and Other Essays by Clifford Thompson (Autumn House Press, 2013). I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s in a semi-detached brick house in Washington, D.C. The house from which it was not detached belonged to my aunt and uncle; my great-aunt and great-uncle lived in the house on the other side of them; and still another aunt and uncle were up the street. People seldom appreciate what they have when it's there, and it is only now, living in a New York apartment surrounded ...read more
Recorded in England in 1958, this little-known session, originally released on the obscure Felsted label, is an inarguable gem. Perhaps even the word masterpiece" is not too much of a stretch. It's doubtful that the putative father of the tenor saxophone," Coleman Hawkins, made a better recording in the age of long-playing records, and it's just as unlikely that a better example of the impeccable touch and melodic inventiveness of the prolific Hank Jones can be found on any other recording featuring the versatile, style-resistant pianist.
Jazz history books frequently use Hawkins to exemplify the harmonic" approach to ...read more
Coleman Hawkins In Europe: London, Paris & Brussels Impro Jazz 2008
In the '20s, Coleman Hawkins (1904-69) established the tenor sax as a prominent soloing option in jazz, creating the first template for the dominant sound of the instrument. The powerful tone, deep swagger and churning rococo harmonic attack of his approach continued to be an influence long after it was eclipsed by the smoother, thinner toned, more rubato style of Lester Young and the further innovations of the still-omnipresent influence of the late John Coltrane. But Hawkins was no hide-bound traditionalist; ...read more
This extraordinary 1962 session was the realization of a promise made thirty years earlier between the maestro, Duke Ellington, and the father of the tenor saxophone, Coleman Hawkins, that they would some day make a record together. Released a mere two months ahead of the largely iconic Ellington-Coltrane meeting, the earlier date is distinguished by the creative energies and commitment both men bring to the proceedings, with Ellington producing a scaled-down version of one of his best bands and Hawkins playing like his characteristically authoritative self while becoming an integral member of the ensemble (in effect, he replaces tenor saxophonist ...read more
Coleman Hawkins had every right to rest on his laurels by the time of this 1961 recording. But The Hawk Relaxes finds the father of the tenor saxophone--aka Hawk or Bean--doing anything but clinging to his perch. He may no longer be soaring in search of prey but he's gliding on buoyant and vital air-streams, performing to near-perfection an all-ballad program that rewards the attentive listener at each turn.
When the history of the tenor saxophone was being written primarily by two artists--Hawkins and Lester Young--every tenor player either had memorized Hawkins' solo on the 1939 recording of ...read more
In this crazy run-around world where we never really have time to stop and appreciate all the good things in our lives, it is pretty hard to make time for Coleman Hawkins. But that is precisely why it is so important to do so. They really never invented a saxophone player better than him, and very few musicians have ever gotten closer to what jazz is supposed to be.
At Ease with Coleman Hawkins, originally released in 1960, is like a 42-minute journey into Zen simplicity, with a touch of sexy swagger on the side. Many people today have forgotten ...read more
This release seems likely to re-open a heated debate and cause controversy. Should classic and famous jazz performances--such as Hawk's Body and Soul --be treated with reverence and respect and be left in peace? Or can they be used as source material for further explorations, however remote from the mood and spirit of the original? Yes, I know this is not a new debate (or a particularly fruitful one?). One only has to think of the animated reaction to Bill Laswell's Panthalassa and its sequel, Panthalassa: The Remixes, which certainly generated more heat than light!
One thing is certain, the ...read more